The Blue Moment, a wonderful blog written by UK author Richard Williams, has posted a piece about Paydirt. You can read it here.
It ends like this:
You might feel as though you’ve known [these tunes] your entire life. You haven’t. If I had to pick a favourite, it would probably be “Ruby I Realize”, a relaxed shuffle in which the infiltration of Sheard’s light-fingered organ makes them sound like a chilled-out Booker T and the MGs, in the best possible way. Or the hymn-like dignity of “Stolen Border”. Or the blithe, skipping tune of “Bounty Jumpers”. Or the yearning lyricism of “It Was Old But We Knew”. Or the dobro and pump organ of “The Church Picnic”. Or the lightly funky second-line rhythm of “His Weakness Was Slender Arms”. Like just about every note I’ve ever heard from this source, Paydirt is highly recommended.
Paydirt is a new Henrys recording, release date January 20, 2020. You can check out a couple of tracks here.
Record release show Feb 9 2020
Link to tickets
About half the tracks on the new record are acoustic, recorded mostly live with guitar, dobro, mandocello, acoustic bass, pump organ, some percussion. The electric tracks employ organ, lap steel, electric guitar and bass, and other sounds. The acoustic tracks were recorded live over a couple of warm June days in Toronto with just Don, Joey Wright and Joe Phillips. Later, several of the tracks were embellished with pump organ and drums. The electric songs were recorded in the same space in various stages, depending on their sonic needs.
REVIEW by Richard Williams
REVIEW from Moors Magazine
(translation from Dutch)
The Henrys is the band name behind which Canadian musical genius Don Rooke hides. Every album from The Henrys is an unadulterated masterpiece, and this also applies undiminished and with strength to Paydirt, which is an instrumental album.
Rooke plays the resonator guitar, a guitar with a metal sound box that sounds more or less like a slide guitar, and a whole bunch of other instruments. But he plays them the way you have rarely heard them. Just listen to the light-hearted opener They Hid in the Shallows, then you will understand what I mean.
Relaxed music that is extremely sophisticated and that seems to reveal new secrets with every turn. This is remarkable, because at first glance the music of The Henrys seems accessible and simple, but if you listen longer and better you will notice that every note, every detail, is exactly right and the tension is kept perfectly. Intelligent music, with humor and yet also melancholy.
At this point I must confess I can listen to this music for hours on end in quiet admiration. And even then I don’t get enough. Oh, and by the way - did I tell you it’s incredibly beautiful as well?
We forgive him that Rooke only releases an album once every five or six years, because I play his previous masterpieces, such as Quiet Industry (from 2015) and Is This Tomorrow (from 2009), still very regularly.
Joey Wright (ac guitar, mandocello)
Joseph Phillips (ac bass)
John Sheard: pump organ
Davide DiRenzo (drums and perc.)
Jonathan Goldsmith (pump organ)
Don Rooke (Yanuziello dobro, National resonator, Weissenborn, kona
Don Rooke (Yanuziello lap steel)
John Sheard (organ)
Davide DiRenzo (drums)
Jonathan Goldsmith: (piano, processed pump organ)
John Dymond (bass)
Paul Pasmore (bass)
Hugh Marsh (violin)
Joseph Phillips (acoustic bass)
the music was composed by Don Rooke,
mixed by Nik Tjelios at The Cottage in Guelph,
mastered in Berkeley by George Horn,
vinyl manufactured by RTI
consider buying a set!
Dutch journalist and music writer Ton Maas has written about The Henrys in a variety of publications for many, many years. On April 7, 2020 he reviewed Paydirt (https://www.mixedworldmusic.com/recensies/?id=1502).
Translated from the Dutch by Google:
Somewhere along a quiet back street in the twilight zone between pop, jazz, americana and Hawaiian noir, the Canadian Don Rooke has been working on an idiosyncratic body of work that can best be described as a musical private universe. His compositions are delicate gems in which the space between the notes adds extra tension. His own, sparsely dosed slide guitar often plays a casual leading role, but also muted trumpet and harmonium are among the characteristic ingredients of his palette as a composer. On previous albums sometimes fragments of wordless vocals came along. And it wasn't the least that Rooke managed to get for that guest star, like Mary Margaret O'Hara and Becca Stevens. For Quiet Industry, the penultimate incarnation of the changing musical company that invariably [embodies] the name The Henrys, Don also wrote lyrics to his pieces and then asked singer Gregory Hoskins to perform them.
Paydirt, the sixth album from The Henrys (or the eighth if you include his solo record and the Three Metre Day CD), marks a return to a fully instrumental format. But with The Henrys, everything is just a little bit different. According to Rooke, Paydirt consists of two groups, one of which is "acoustic" and the other "electric". I use quotes because the differences are quite subtle. The accompanying vinyl album contains a selection from both releases, with the acoustic and electric repertoire each occupying their own record side. (They are just mixed up in the digital download).
If I had to indicate how the new record differs from the previous one, I would say that the pieces might be a bit more accessible because this time Rooke chose pronounced melody lines. But put it on a few more times and you will be amazed at the sophistication and complexity that gradually unfolds. And for those who want to hear even more afterwards, there is Paydirtier (also available via Bandcamp), a virtual EP on which it is easier to hear the improvising. (Ton Maas)